Friday, February 25, 2005

Guns or Butter

The Guardian's Chris McGreal has a piece on the economic and social costs of the Israeli occupation of Palestine.

The cost of the latest intifada has been particularly high. The economy contracted from 8% growth in 2000 to nearly 1% three years later as foreign investment dropped sharply and tourism collapsed. The health service, social security and education budgets were severely cut.

"Their cumulative effect can probably be compared to the structural changes introduced into eastern European countries in the aftermath of the collapse of the Soviet Union, or to the structural changes imposed by international financial institutions on countries that had undergone severe financial crises."

As unemployed has risen and poverty widened, many social benefits have been sharply reduced, including a cut of almost a third in income support for the poor and single mothers. "The most tangible outcome has been the mushrooming of soup-kitchens and of 'hand-out' societies, previously unknown in Israel except in the Orthodox Jewish communities," the report says.

The cost will continue to rise even as Israel extricates itself from the Gaza Strip, paying compensation to settlers and possibly dismantling other settlements as part of a final agreement with the Palestinians.|Link|

Vietnam had a tremendous impact on the US economy. I think Iraq threatens to damage our economy seriously as well. Of course, letting Iraq turn into a failed state would be even worse in the long run. But maybe Bush will go for the hat trick and damage our economy, weaken our military and turn Iraq into a failed state.

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